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INVESTIGATION INTO IMPACT OF POLITICAL TENSION ON HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN CAMEROON

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INVESTIGATION INTO IMPACT OF POLITICAL TENSION ON HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Amidst the global pursuit of fostering enduring peace and building harmonious relationships among nations, the prevailing currents of warfare and conflict persist as formidable obstacles. Despite concerted efforts and the implementation of various strategies to address global violence, instances of armed conflicts continue to unfold, exacting devastating tolls on societies worldwide. These conflicts manifest in multifaceted way such as political tensions, emerging as the primary drivers of hunger and humanitarian crises on a global scale (Lander and Richards, 2019). 

Bizarrely, political tension encompasses a state of heightened unease, discord, and instability within a political system or between different political actors, often arising from divergent interests, ideologies, or grievances (Darasimi, 2018). Such tensions can manifest in various forms, including contentious debates, protests, demonstrations, or even violent conflicts, and they may stem from a range of factors such as socio-economic disparities, ethnic or religious divisions, power struggles, or disputes over governance and resource allocation (Ubongudo, 2020). Political tension may also arise from perceived injustices, violations of human rights, or challenges to democratic principles, leading to polarization, mistrust, and hostility among different segments of society (Brown & Smith, 2019). In some cases, external factors such as international pressure, geopolitical rivalries, or interventions by foreign powers may exacerbate political tensions, further complicating efforts to resolve underlying conflicts and restore stability (Johnson et al., 2021). Ultimately, the consequences of political tension can be far-reaching, impacting governance, social cohesion, economic development, and even regional or global security, underscoring the urgent need for effective conflict resolution mechanisms, inclusive dialogue, and accountable governance structures (Roberts, 2020).

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA 2020), more than 235 million people worldwide require humanitarian assistance and protection, with conflicts being a primary driver of humanitarian needs.  Similarly Osagae (2022) stated that the consequences of violence continue to deepen around the world, with widespread displacement, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and devastating impacts on the affected population’s physical and psychological well-being and this has been the case in countries where conflicts and related humanitarian crises have endured for years such as Nigeria, Mali, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen. In light of this, humanitarian actors, such as regional inter-governmental organizations and civil society, have assumed greater prominence in the humanitarian sector in recent years. 

Contextually, among the recent upheavals commanding global attention is the Cameroon Anglophone crisis, characterized by profound challenges for humanitarian actors striving to support affected communities. Originating from grievances within a predominantly Francophone society, the crisis has seen a minority advocating for secession and greater autonomy, intensifying tensions around these fundamental issues. As opined by Niyi (2023) political tension in Cameroon is a multifaceted phenomenon with deep-rooted historical, social, and economic dimensions. It often arises from longstanding grievances related to governance, representation, and resource allocation, particularly between the Anglophone minority and the Francophone-dominated government (Taku, 2018). The Anglophone crisis, which escalated into armed conflict in 2016, epitomizes the culmination of years of political marginalization and perceived discrimination against Anglophone Cameroonians (Fonchingong, 2019). Tensions have been further exacerbated by the government's heavy-handed response to dissent, including crackdowns on protests, arrests of political activists, and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly (Nkongho, 2020). Moreover, the lack of meaningful dialogue and inclusive political processes has fueled resentment and mistrust among different segments of the population, perpetuating a cycle of political instability and social unrest (Takougang & Krieger, 2021).

Statement of Problem

In recent times, the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon have experienced armed conflict over the last seven years, characterized by mass displacement and limited access to health care and social amenities. As studied by Unuoani (2024), the political tension in Cameroon significantly impacts the humanitarian crisis in the country, particularly in conflict-affected regions such as the Northwest and Southwest Region, stemming from grievances of the Anglophone minority against perceived marginalization by the Francophone-dominated government, has escalated into a violent conflict since 2016. This protracted conflict has led to widespread displacement, destruction of infrastructure, and loss of lives, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.  In a study by Achonu (2023), the political tensions between the government and separatist groups have also created a highly polarized environment, making it difficult for humanitarian organizations to operate independently and impartially. Access to conflict-affected areas is often restricted due to security concerns, bureaucratic hurdles, and mistrust between parties, hindering the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Existing studies highlight the intricate interplay between political dynamics and humanitarian challenges in the country, particularly in conflict-affected regions such as the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The escalation of the Anglophone crisis since 2016 has exacerbated existing political tensions, leading to widespread violence, displacement, and violations of human rights (Takougang & Krieger, 2021). Moreover, the government's response to dissent, including the imposition of curfews, restrictions on freedom of speech, and arrests of political activists, has further heightened tensions and undermined efforts to address the humanitarian needs of affected populations (Nkongho, 2020). Despite the presence of humanitarian actors in Cameroon, including international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the politicization of aid and restrictions on humanitarian access have hampered efforts to deliver essential assistance to vulnerable communities (Fonteh, 2019). The failure to address underlying political grievances, ensure inclusive governance structures, and foster meaningful dialogue has perpetuated a cycle of violence and instability, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis (Ndiva Monges & Ayafor, 2017). Against the backdrop, the study seeks to investigate the impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.

1.3 Objectives of The study

The broad objective of the study is focused investigate the impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.. Specifically, the study seeks to

Examine the level of political tension prevalent across Cameroon

Determine the factors that has exacerbate the political tension in Cameroon.

Ascertain the impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon..

1.4 Research Question

What is the level of political tension prevalent across Cameroon?

What are the factors that has exacerbate the political tension in Cameroon?

What are the impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Ho: There is no significant impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon

Hi: There is a significant impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study holds significant practical implications for humanitarian actors, policymakers, and stakeholders involved in conflict resolution efforts. By meticulously evaluating the effectiveness and challenges of humanitarian interventions in Cameroon's conflict zones, the study offers actionable insights to improve aid delivery strategies. These insights can inform the development of more responsive and context-specific approaches to address the urgent needs of affected populations. Moreover, by shedding light on coordination issues and operational constraints faced by humanitarian organizations, the study can foster better collaboration among stakeholders, ultimately enhancing the efficiency and impact of humanitarian response efforts in Cameroon. This practical significance is underscored by the potential to mitigate human suffering, protect vulnerable populations, and contribute to peacebuilding and stability in conflict-affected regions.

The theoretical significance of the study lies in its contribution to advancing scholarly knowledge in the field of humanitarian studies. By delving into the complexities of humanitarian interventions within the specific context of Cameroon's conflict zones, the study enriches theoretical frameworks and concepts related to humanitarian action in diverse cultural and political settings. Moreover, by addressing existing gaps in research on humanitarian interventions in African contexts, the study expands the academic discourse and provides valuable empirical evidence to inform future studies and debates in the field. By bridging theory and practice, the study not only enhances our understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in humanitarian interventions but also lays the groundwork for more informed and effective approaches to humanitarian action in similar conflict settings globally.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study borders on an investigate the impact of political tension on humanitarian crisis in Cameroon..  The content scope focuses on the study will investigate the humanitarian challenges arising from political tension in Cameroon, particularly in conflict-affected regions, the politicization of aid, restrictions on humanitarian access, and the role of humanitarian actors in responding to the crisis..

The geographical boundaries of the study will focus on North-West regions affected by ongoing political tension which has experienced significant unrest and insecurity as a result of clashes between armed separatist groups and government forces.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

Like every academic endeavor, the study’s constraint will center around difficulties in accessing reliable data due to security risks and logistical challenges in conflict-affected regions thus only limited sample will be used for the study dependent on accessibility and availability of participant. This implies that findings of the study will not serve as a basis for generalization outside the region under study. More so, another constrain is in potential scarcity of comprehensive and up-to-date data sources, language and cultural barriers impacting communication with local communities, political sensitivities that may result in pressure or restrictions from authorities, and temporal limitations that might overlook historical context or recent developments.

Despite these limitations, the researcher will carefully maintain ethical consideration which are essential for ensuring the study's integrity and providing valuable insights on the study.

1.9 Definition of terms

Political Tension: A state of heightened unease, discord, and instability within a political system or between different political actors, often arising from divergent interests, ideologies, or grievances. Political tension may manifest in various forms, including contentious debates, protests, demonstrations, or violent conflicts, and it may stem from factors such as socio-economic disparities, ethnic or religious divisions, power struggles, or disputes over governance and resource allocation.

Humanitarian Crisis: A situation characterized by widespread human suffering, displacement, and disruption of basic services, often resulting from armed conflict, natural disasters, or other emergencies. Humanitarian crises pose significant challenges to the well-being and survival of affected populations, including threats to life, health, food security, shelter, and livelihoods. Humanitarian crises require urgent and coordinated responses to provide lifesaving assistance, protection, and support to affected individuals and communities.

Humanitarian Interventions: Actions taken by humanitarian organizations, governments, or other actors to provide aid, assistance, and protection to people affected by crises such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, and emergencies. Humanitarian interventions aim to alleviate suffering, address basic needs, and protect human rights in crisis-affected areas.


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